Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Allow Drag Show

West Texas A&M's president had called performances 'demoralizing misogyny'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 15, 2024 3:27 PM CDT
Supreme Court Rejects Bid to Allow Drag Show
The Supreme Court is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 4.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected an emergency appeal from a student group that has been blocked from staging a drag show at a public university in Texas. The justices did not comment Friday in refusing to issue an order that would have allowed Spectrum WT—a group for LGBTQ+ students and allies—to put on a charity show on March 22 on the campus of West Texas A&M University in Canyon, just south of Amarillo. The high court had previously refused to allow Florida to enforce its law targeting drag shows, the AP reports, while lower federal courts in a Montana, Tennessee, and Texas blocked state bans from being implemented.

The Texas college dispute arose last year when the school's president, Walter Wendrell, announced in a letter and column laden with religious references that drag performances would not be allowed on campus. Wendrell wrote that the shows discriminate against women and that the performances were "derisive, divisive and demoralizing misogyny, no matter the stated intent." Wendrell blocked a show scheduled for a year ago.

Spectrum WT sued, arguing that drag wasn't designed to be offensive and portraying it as a celebration of many things, including "queerness, gender, acceptance, love and especially femininity." US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled against the group. "The First Amendment does not prevent school officials from restricting 'vulgar and lewd' conduct that would 'undermine the school's basic educational mission'— particularly in settings where children are physically present," Kacsmaryk, a Donald Trump appointee, wrote last year. Spectrum WT sought the Supreme Court's intervention as the date for its 2024 drag show approached.

(More US Supreme Court stories.)

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